Wednesday, 4 November 2009

TURKEY'S ZERO PROBLEM POLICY

Turkey’s new policy is a situation of zero problems with her neighbours. This is declared almost daily these days. Is this to imply that so far her policy was to sustain problems with her neighbours? That’s an interest-ing admission, which needs to be remembered. Especially by those who are anxious to applaud Turkey’s new policy. Simple because one way of achieving zero problems with its neighbours, Turkey must first eradicate all the sources that allowed the previous situation of conflict with almost all her neighbours to prevail for so many decades. Is Turkey doing that? That’s another interesting question.
Having said that, every good willed person would welcome this Turkish intention. But words have to be followed by actions. And talking about words, the Turkish Prime Minister has to do something about his Minis-ter Egemen Bagis and his many public statements about Cyprus. They usually contradict this official policy of «zero problems», thus creating –or even worse, strengthening- doubts about the credibility of such a policy. When for example Mr. Bagis boasts that Turkey began accession talks with the European Union, without having to withdraw a single soldier from Cyprus, or without having to withdraw from a single inch of Cyprus’ occupied territories. Or when he declares that the only way for a solution is ignore what the two leaders have agreed but the unconditional acceptance of what Turkey dictates. The unfortunate fact is that the present President of the Turkish Republic, Abdullah Gul, was the first to make such statement during his Foreign Affairs days.
Such statements challenge Mr. Etogan’s declared policy towards its neighbours and they constitute a raw provocation towards the European Union where Turkey aspires to find herself. Mr. Erdogan has also to ex-plain how such policy can be compromise with the threats to use military action to prevent Cyprus from exercise its rights as an independent country member of the United Nations and the European Union, in her legally designated zone of economic exploitation. They are still there. They have never been withdrawn. Mr. Ertogan has be reminded also that the infamous decision of the Turkish Grand Assembly on casus belli should Greece exercise her sovereign right to extend her territorial waters in accordance with the international law, is still there.
One should welcome any move by Turkey towards a peaceful coexistence with her neighbours. And it will be an important moment when Turkey joins the EU because that would mean that she finally conformed to the norms of the European Union. Peaceful overtones towards the Kurds, the agreement with Armenia and even the possible gestures towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate are moves in the right direction, but they are still too far from a situation of «zero problems». And there has been no follow up with a similarly peaceful, good will gesture on Cyprus. Unless, of course, Turkey does not consider Cyprus as one of its neighbours.

NICOSIA
5.11.2009

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